Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

December 13, 2018 at 12:54 am.

–With offensive coordinator John DeFilippo replaced with quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski, the spotlight is on quarterback Kirk Cousins’ productivity. Cousins is second in the league in completion percentage at 70.6 percent and he’s eighth in passing yards. But Cousins has dropped to 13th in passer rating at 98.4 with two of his worst ratings over the past four weeks. He was at 89.0 last week against Seattle. He ended up throwing for 208 yards after entering halftime 4-of-8 passing for 27 yards.

–Cousins spoke highly of DeFilippo after the firing and believes he will be a coordinator again and possibly a head coach. “I want to make it very clear that Coach Flip, and no surprise to me, was very classy and very gracious in my conversation with him yesterday, which is the way he’s always been. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, I have a lot of respect for him as a person. And I believe that his best days in this league are ahead of him. I think he’s a very good coach and I think he’ll be a coordinator again. I think he’s head coach material, as well. This is, like I said, a part of this business. It happens to people that are very, very good at what they do. I’m pulling for him going forward because I believe in who he is a coach and person.”

–Safety Harrison Smith is one of two players in the NFL this season with at least three interceptions and three sacks. Chargers safety Derwin James is the other. They are the first players in the NFL to do so since Landon Collins and Ryan Shazier in 2016. The last time Minnesota faced Miami, Smith had five tackles and an interception of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

–Defensive end Danielle Hunter had a sack last week to snap his three-game sackless streak. Hunter is tied with Houston’s J.J. Watt and Cleveland’s Myles Garrett for third in the league with 12.5 sacks. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks. Hunter now has 38 sacks in his first four NFL seasons, the second-most of any player in Vikings history. Only Hall of Famer Alan Page had more with 39.

–Defensive end Everson Griffen was asked about Dolphins running back Frank Gore, the ageless wonder who is now fourth all-time in career rushing yards with 14,734. Gore leads Miami with 708 rushing yards this season and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. “You know that’s longevity, taking care of your body, doing the right things,” Griffen said. “And just being a humble player and just doing it at a high level. Whenever his number is getting called, whenever the opportunity is called, he’s out there playing at a high level. He’s in the top group of all-time rushers and he’s one of the best running backs that ever played this game.”

–Wide receiver Adam Thielen had five catches for 70 yards in last week’s game and now leads the NFL with 103 catches this season. It’s the fifth-highest total in NFL history through the first 13 games of a season. Thielen is third in the league with 1,236 receiving yards and his nine receiving touchdowns is tied for sixth. Thielen and teammates Stefon Diggs (88 receptions) are one of two pairs of teammates with at least 85 receptions each this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 43.2 – Percent of opponent red-zone touchdowns allowed by Minnesota’s defense, the best rate in the NFL. Miami has converted 51.85 percent of its red-zone chances into touchdowns this season, ranked 26th in the league.